My 1930s dress toile

You may or may not remember long long ago in January when I told you about the 20s and 30s inspired pattern making course I have been doing this term.

I started by gathering inspiration, and then came up with the one on the left as my final dress design.

With the sleeves to be beaded something like this.

Rather than design and make a dress that would rarely get worn, my intention was to make a slightly more practical dress. However, a practical dress meant that I wouldn’t learn as much, so practicality went out the window! I lengthened the skirt to floor length, cut it on the bias (at a 45 degree angle to the normal grainline), and added a more shaped dropped waistline. A whole new dress really!

I made the pattern to my pre-bump size so am not actually able to fit it at the moment. This means I have only made it to the toile (rough) stage. And this was it before my lesson this morning…

It is very rough, and the cheap and nasty polyester that I got to do the toile either doesn’t press or melts under the iron, so it was a tough job getting all the seams looking anywhere near good!

By making this toile I was able to see what needed altering on my pattern to make it work better. For example, I had sewn the bust darts too long, so altered my paper pattern by shortening them by 2cm.

You can also see from the photo that the sleeve is a bit flat and isn’t scalloped yet like my initial design.

To remedy this I first marked three points on the sleeve and slashed up towards the shoulder.

I then added more fabric under the existing sleeve to add extra width.

The next step was to measure how much fabric I had added, and transfer this to the paper pattern. In the case of the middle slash, I needed to add 4cm.

By doing this for all three slashes, and then taping pattern paper into the gaps, I had created a fuller sleeve.

I then added the scalloped shaping and toiled the new sleeve. Much better!

I found this bracelet that I made, and am wondering if something like this would be nice on the sleeve edging (you need to use your imagination a bit for this – I only pinned it on!).

In a similar way to altering the sleeve, I also dropped the neck a bit but will have to make my final decision when I can get in to the toile to see exactly where I would like it to sit.

I also learnt about cutting and sewing on the bias, ways of finishing vintage dresses rather than lining them, and some other stuff, but I think I might save all that for other blog posts so that I don’t bombard / bore you with them all today!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Image source


Lustgården footstool

Whenever I go to a different country I always like to try and buy some fabric to remind me of the trip. This is what I did when I went to Stockholm a while ago, and found this fabric.

Art Collection fabric red - red - Design House Stockholm

It was about a squillion pounds to buy a metre, so I spent half a squillion on half a metre as I liked it so much! This did however means I had a silly small amount of fabric and couldn’t think what to do with it.

The fabric was designed by Stig Lindberg’s in the 1950s, and is called Lustgården (Garden of Eden). Lindberg was a leading Swedish postwar designer, also producing ceramics, tableware, industrial design and working as a painter and illustrator. I saw an original version of this fabric in the National Museum, and then was able to buy some as Design House Stockholm now reproduces it to the same original standards.

The fabric itself is really thick and heavy, more suitable for upholstery than clothing which is why I had my predicament of not knowing what to make with it. However, as we start to get the nursery ready a need became clear!

We already have two nursing chairs, handed down from my parents, which we had been using as normal seats but they can soon be put to their proper use! However, I imagine it would be nice to be able to put your feet up once in a while so I found instructions for a footstool in the Liberty Book of Home Sewing.

And this is what I made!

Not a very tricky make, apart from getting the blimming polystyrene balls into the lining, and then getting that into the cover. It looked like it had snowed indoors and I have a feeling we will be finding little white balls for years to come!

The only other niggly thing that happened was that I marked the fabric with tailors chalk to cut it out, then changed the cutting line and now can’t get the tailors chalk out. You can just see a white line all round the top in some of the photos. Does anyone have any tips on how I could get rid of this – rubbing it vigorously with a stiff brush hasn’t worked!

Because of the fabric design, and the shape of the footstool it is like a little story is being played out as you turn the stool around.

‘Oh what a lovely spot for a picnic!’

‘Just chillin’, listening to my own private flute player…’

Some shenanigans going on around that tree on the right if you ask me…

‘Look at me! I’m juggling white doves!’
(I had to chop most of the doves off, but that is actually what it looks like he is doing!)

And after all that excitement, me and the baby took the footstool for a little test run. It works perfectly!

Image source

RIP Sewing Room

I think I’m about to write a post that makes me sound very unreasonable, but here goes…

Yesterday was a sad day at Peggy’s Pickles HQ, as The Sewing Room is no more 😦

Until yesterday I had everything I needed in one room.

My sewing machine, with a nice view out of the window…

Plenty of room for all my patterns and books and things I don’t really need…

And the ironing board, mirror and mannequin within easy reach.

And probably most importantly a wooden floor – perfect for cutting out fabric.

Then yesterday I go to the gym, and come back to find this.

And this.

IN A DIFFERENT ROOM!!!!!! WITH CARPET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Much to my sadness, The Sewing Room has been relegated to a corner of another room to make way for The Nursery. It is fair to say I didn’t think this whole thing far enough through – I knew I’d have to give a lot of things up with the arrival of this child, but The Sewing Room? Really?!

However, as Dave pointed out I may have reacted a little hormonally (pretty sure that’s not a real word) when I got a bit upset by the whole thing :-).

After sleeping on the whole situation, I can now see it’s not that bad at all – I have the lovely task of getting The Nursery ready, I got to sort through all my sewing stuff and uncover things I forgot I had, and I get to hunt for new shelves and things to make The Sewing Corner as lovely as The Sewing Room once was.

RIP Sewing Room, you will be missed 🙂

How to make rouleau loops (and what they are)

By the end of my Clothes Making class on Monday, I was feeling pree-tty pleased with myself. Why? Because I not only learnt what a rouleau loop is, but I also learnt how to make one.

So what is a rouleau loop?

It does not, as I spent much of my lesson hoping, have anything to do with a roulade except for the fact both words are to do with rolling in French.

Num, num, num...

Sadly, a rouleau loop is in no way edible.

Rouleau on it’s own is a decorative technique that involves creating patterns with piping, cording or bias tape.

A rouleau loop uses the same cord or piping, but as a way of fastening buttons. I guess we’re most familiar with them being used down the back of bridal gowns. No prizes for guessing whose dress came up most when I did a quick search!

As you may have seen from a previous post, I am currently making a top using a maternity pattern my mum had when she was pregnant with me.

I am making the middle top, but with short sleeves and two buttons down the front. It is these two buttons that require the rouleau loops, so here goes on how I did it!

(Apologies for poor photos, I forgot my camera so had to use my phone)

By drawing round a set square, cut a piece of paper with a right angle and 45 degree angle.

Next, draw a line 2.5cm (or as required) in from the 45 degree angle.

Pin this triangle on to your fabric, using the straight sides to line up with the selvedge. The 45 degree line gives you your bias.

Cut along the inside line drawn at 2.5cm parallel to the 45 degree line, this will create a strip of fabric cut on the bias.

Fold the strip in half lengthways and pin together.

Sew a straight line a few millimeters from the folded edge.

Taking a strong needle and thread, attach the thread to one end of the fabric, next to the opening of the channel you have created. Now for the tricky bit!

Start threading the needle through the channel, but with the blunt end first to make it easier. Keep going until the needle and thread come out the other end.

The fabric now needs to be turned inside out, with all the excess fabric being captured within the roll. This took me a lot of wriggling and trial and error, but essentially you should be able to pull the thread, which will in turn pull the fabric through from the other end where you have already attached it firmly.

Keep going!

Eventually it will all come through, and it then needs a quick steam from the iron by pinning each end to the ironing board.

I then used this cord to create the rouleau loops for my buttons, checking the size of the loops against the buttons themselves.

The final rouleau loops on the front of my top!

If none of this makes sense, I found this guide here which may be useful!

Image sources 

Sarah’s Very Sunny Sorbetto

Say hello to Sorbetto No. 3!

I made this Sorbetto earlier in the year for my friend Sarah’s 30th. As she has pointed out it has become my most travelled make yet – she lives in New Zealand so I posted it to her there, and she has taken some photos of her wearing it in Fiji (look away now if you don’t want to see beautiful sandy beaches, palm trees, general sunny lovliness…)

Doesn’t Fiji look awful? I’m sure she must have had a terrible time. Despite the dull scenery though, I think Sarah and the Sorbetto look great 🙂

You may recognise the fabric from my Butterick B5217. I bought it to make the Sorbetto and had lots left over for me! I used some pink silky binding to finish off the edges, and while I didn’t quite catch it all as neatly as I would have liked, I think I did a good job considering it’s the thinnest stuff I’ve worked with so far!

I’m also really pleased that it fits. It’s quite hard to check when your customer lives on the other side of the world, but thankfully it seems to be just right!

The 50p Quilt

Although all the clothes I have been making recently have been maternity things, so far on Peggy’s Pickles I have resisted talking too much about baby stuff. This is partly because I don’t want to bore you all, and partly because I don’t actually know anything about babies. I am hoping that somehow between now and July my ‘mothering instinct’ is going to kick in, and I will just know what to do. Or at least make it look like I know what to do 🙂

Anyway, in an attempt to get ready for the wriggly person inside of me (yes, this does feel as weird as it sounds if you haven’t yet experienced it) I decided to make a little cot quilt.

I have made two quilts already in my life, and after each one I have sworn never to make another one. The first was a wedding present for my sister, a massive king size affair that I kept getting lost under, calling for Dave to rescue me from the depths of the cotton and wadding that engulfed me as I sewed. Never again I said – I am a one-quilt-pony.

That was until my mum hinted that she had a big birthday coming up, and oh, wouldn’t a quilt be a lovely present? Knowing that I had a lot of wadding left from the first quilt, how could I refuse? Although I did get it done in time, this quilt took me about 6 months to finish. And still I couldn’t get the corners right.

That’s it – no more quilts for me I thought. They make me a bit stressed, I can’t work out how to mitre the corners, and to be honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing.

Then I got pregnant, which does funny things to you. Like making you cry when Sian Williams has her last day presenting BBC Breakfast News (she’d been there 11 years can you believe?! Emotional stuff).

So, under this pregnancy induced illusion that I really wanted to make something for our baby, out came the wadding again (I may have over bought on the wadding in the first place, and this has definitely been the error of my ways).

Peggy sprang in to action, in anticipation of another sewing project she could assist with.

Rather than buy lots more fabric I wanted to try and use bits from the rather large stash of scraps that I have. The only problem is that I am a girl, and the baby could be a boy or a girl. I have a lot of girly fabric scraps, so did my best finding bits that were as neutral as possible. Inevitably it’s still a bit girly biased, but all in all I only had to pop out to buy some cotton for the border which was 50p!

Peggy was always on hand for the quilt-comfiness-test.

And definitely didn’t get in the way when I was stitching the border on.

This time round I was determined to get the corners right so I got some instructions out and carefully read through them. “Ah Ha!” I exclaimed “With all my new sewing skills I finally understand what I’m meant to do!”

With a very smug face I sat and handstitched away. “Check me out, doing mitered corners like a pro.”

I did them wrong. AGAIN.

They are however my best yet, so am happy with that. Am pretty sure it’s me being a bit of a perfectionist as well, and am also pretty sure the baby isn’t going to be too worried about how successfully its quilt corners have been mitered.

The nice thing about the quilt is that each bit of fabric has a little story to go with it.

The green floral and dark purple were used in my mum’s quilt, and the blue stripey in my sisters. The pink stripey I ‘acquired’ from a place I worked, and the blue border fabric was my old duvet cover in my first year at Uni.

A very family affair!

The dresses reach Kenya!

Today I’m really excited to be able to show you some more of the pillowcase dresses in their final destination – Kenya!

You may remember that back in December I gave charity Chance to Grow 70 of the dresses to take to Great Mercy school and orphanage in Kitale, western Kenya.

Chance to Grow, and Great Mercy, serves many orphaned children from the region, and offers education to those children who slip through the net of primary education. In Kenya, while primary education is free, secondary schooling is not; and students must pay fees of around £400 per year. This is more than double the average annual income of a rural Kenyan family.

Families in rural areas are less likely to send their child to school because children are an important labour force. Girls are less likely to be educated than boys and are often married off at an early age. In addition, HIV/AIDS has left many orphans to be raised by relatives, who can ill afford to pay more school fees. Chance to Grow’s goal is to provide a loving home for children with nowhere else to go, and to provide education for those who would otherwise have to go without it.

Seeing these photos definitely makes all the efforts of the Pillowcase Dress Challenge last year seem worthwhile.

Has anyone spotted one of theirs yet?!

(For anyone wondering, the Dress a Girl Around the World charity does have a pattern for making trousers for boys, so although I didn’t make anything for them there are people out there doing so)